Midian Ranch Blog

This is the web log for Midian Ranch, an isolated homestead in rural Nevada. It is owned by Jason and Tina Walters, whom are also its regular posters. This blog is exclusively for the enlightenment and edification of our friends, family, and colleagues.

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Location: Gerlach, Nevada, United States

Sunday, July 30, 2006

July 14th, 15th, and 16th

The older you get the more you come to appreciate a single important fact: you just can’t put a price tag on a great view. Man, what a view this place has! It’s downright biblical. In the spring and fall the Hualipi Valley looks like heaven: wet, green, and filled with wildlife. In the summer and winter it’s a vision of hell so epically severe that Dante Alighieri would shake his head and say “Yep. That’s what I was thinking about when I wrote The Inferno!” All right - Dante would never have said “yep,” but I’m sure you know what I mean. In the winter there’s blizzards, freezing rain, and hungry mountain lions. In the summer there are lighting storms, massive dust devils, and hungry mountain lions. Don't get me wrong: having large, predatory cats as neighbors isn’t as much of an inconvenience as one might think. I vastly prefer them to my neighbors in Richmond. They’re quite, keep to themselves, and have never once left an empty bottle of Remy Martin on my doorstep.

It was too hot to get more than a moderate amount of work done this weekend. I organized Tina’s office, cleaned up and organized the warehouse, wrote a few thousand words of Lucha Libre Hero (my next project for Hero Games), and tinkered yet again on the jeep. This produced the rather predictable result of nothing, even when the mad Dr. Frankenstein creator of the jeep himself showed up to help me work on it. Near as Frank (my father in law) and I can tell the jeep’s electrical system is – to use a technical term – screwed. I’m going to replace the coil next trip and see what happens but I’m not terribly optimistic. If I have to learn the arcane mystery known as “setting the points” I may run screaming from the workshop once and for all. Which is a shame, as I really, really want to get the damn thing running so I can concentrate on other tasks. I need to move on to getting the ranch house up to code for an inspection, then building a nice big porch for it so I can landscape us a front yard.

Ah, well: bitch, bitch, bitch.

On a happy/sad note Tina and two of her cousins arrived to just in time for me to leave on Sunday. She had a major book shipment to take care of on Monday and Tuesday, while I had to get back to work on Monday for various reasons. This has gotten to be a regrettable pattern over the last few months: we are both coming out here but consistently at different times due to work considerations. This will end in the next few months but it’s a drag while it lasts.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

July 8th,9th, and 10th

It’s now the time of the year when intellectual pursuits become incredibly attractive in the Black Rock Desert. Specifically the kinds that don’t involve physical exertion: writing, reading, watching lengthy movies, and so forth. The desire to move about as little as possible becomes an irresistible siren’s song. If I ever get around to reading Brothers Karamazof or War and Peace, it will definitely be during the summer out here. Or maybe I’ll do it in the dead of winter. That would make more sense for reading The Russians, wouldn’t it?

I continued my work on the jeep without any discernable success. This time I replaced the distributor cap, gapped the plugs, and checked the flow of gasoline from the tanks to the engine. No dice: the damned thing still won’t start. My new theory is that the fuel pump isn’t working. Which makes sense when you consider the destructive effect that desert dryness has on old rubber. I’m betting that the little rubber membrane inside of the pump has suddenly ruptured due to age and climate. Oh well – I’ll replace it next trip and find out.

I’ve wanted to hike further into the Leadville Mines for some time now, so Chris and I drove out to the entrance of Leadville late Sunday afternoon and hiked up into the canyon system. It took us several hours but we found an excellent camping spot: a grove of several dozen aspen trees with a small, muddy stream nearby. It’s obviously a fairly popular spot as it had a bench, burn bin, and piles of firewood already stacked up nearby. It even had grass – the ultimate Black Rock luxury! We pitched camp, cooked dinner, and watched the old Robert Redford film Jeremiah Johnson (which seemed appropriate) on the portable DVD player before turning in.

The next day I completed my assigned tasks at the ranch and headed home in time to visit with Tina for a few hours before she headed out to Midian. That’s become the usual pattern in our lives during the last few months: we come out here at separate times due to our work. I don’t like it, as we alrady don’t spend that much time together in the first place. Trips to Midian have traditionally been our “together” time. Well, hopefully that will change soon.

Friday, July 07, 2006

At The Memorial Tree

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The Apple

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

June 23rd to 26th

We had several visitors to Midian Ranch this last trip. Both Tina’s mother Nancy and her friend (and ours) Laura Reid came to spend the weekend. The ladies had a lovely time drinking tea, watching movies, and taking nature walks around the property. I had a not-so-lovely time trying to fix the jeep (didn’t happen) and building a 55-gallon water container rack (did happen). Actually, I’m exaggerating a bit: I too had a nice time hanging out with the womenfolk. Still, I wish I could have gotten the jeep running.

After the ladies left, Tina and I took a long drive up State Route 34 to the old Leadville mine. It’s a beautiful, isolated location far from the nearest human habitation. We left the truck by the road and walked hand-in-hand most of the way up the gorge to where the remains of the old mine lie. The small creatures of the desert teamed about us: butterflies and bumblebees, birds and ground squirrels. I can’t say that it was antediluvian - there were bits and pieces of hundred-year-old mining equipment scattered around (not to mention mine tailings) - but the hand of man has certainly not been upon the land in many years. It’s typical of the Black Rock Desert in many ways - not so much a land that time has forgotten as one that it has discarded.

Beauteous, beauteous. Here we shall spend our lives.